Blast Hourstiker: Ulysse Nardin breaks the sound barrier
Before we wore time, we heard it. Clocks chimed in the heart of every medieval city. Clocks made by brilliant craftsmen who would, through miniaturisation, create domestic clocks, and then hand-held timepieces, capable, despite their small size, to strike the passing hours. Inspired by watchmaking’s past and the possibility of moving musical timekeeping into the future, Ulysse Nardin wants you to hear time again, not read it.
Ordinarily, to generate the sound needed to mark the passing hours, the hammers strike a wire gong wrapped around the movement to which it is attached. The acoustic wave spreads into the middle of the mechanism and is partly absorbed by it. In these conditions, the sound heard lacks power and its harmonics are partially muffled by the material of the timepiece.
For the Blast Hourstriker, Ulysse Nardin’s team of engineers decided to set themselves two challenges:
• Make the chiming mechanism visible on the dial side.
• Further improve the quality/power output ratio. A challenge that was already started with the Classico Hourstriker Phantom watch.
To achieve these goals, Ulysse Nardin’s engineers and watchmakers developed the UN-621 caliber. In order to guarantee optimal precision of Ulysse Nardin’s first inhouse automatic striking manufacture movement, it is powered by a flying tourbillon; one that is equipped with a variable-inertia balance wheel, a silicon hairspring, anchor and escape wheel. Its contemporary lines have also been made sleeker and stamped with the now iconic X associated with the brand’s latest generation of timepieces.
The most complex phase of the Blast Hourstriker’s development involved redesigning the entire kinematics of this 330-component striking caliber to allow this highly sophisticated mechanism, which is usually hidden from view, to be seen dial side.
When the striker is on, the mechanical ballet that makes the watch’s sound is visible on the hour and half hour, but even its occasional activation is just as beautiful. By pressing the button located at 10 o’clock, the mechanism, driven by a specially dedicated barrel, is triggered. The hour rack and the inertia regulator start to turn; the hammers, visible in an opening made at 12 o’clock, hit the gong whose shape has been subtly worked to bypass the cage of the flying tourbillon.
To celebrate its 175th anniversary, Ulysse Nardin takes clockmaking into the realms of imagination by reinventing the chronometer. This UFO might be a table or desk clock, but it is so many other things besides. It’s a swinging mechanical depiction of the movement of the waves. It is a triple-timed zone amalgam of the past, present and future. Once again, Ulysse Nardin has launched something completely unexpected – a new addition to its cabinet of curiosities, inspired by innovation and exploration, the seas and the skies. This UFO contains all of Ulysse Nardin’s horological history in one single object, from the marine chronometers of the 19th and 20th centuries to the Freak in 2001, to the Blast in 2020. It is simply out of this world.
So how to celebrate the future of the brand, while staying true to the desire to make the best time-measuring tools, which was the challenge Ulysse Nardin set himself in 1846? “Reissuing a watch from the past by reusing vintage codes was not part of our creative intentions for this anniversary object. On the contrary, we wanted to reverse the trend and make a leap forward of 175 years, rather than a leap backward. We always look ahead. We wondered what a marine chronometer designed in 2196 would be like,” explains Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin.
With its 663 components, and triple-dialled time zones, the UFO is the futuristic interpretation of what Ulysse Nardin’s designers, engineers, and watchmakers think a marine chronometer should look like in 175 years’ time. This UFO has been designed to guide the explorers of the future, whichever seas they may sail.
In an Xciting merger of the two DIVER and EXECUTIVE SKELETON worlds, Ulysse Nardin adds a new design to its range of horological UFOs: the DIVER X SKELETON, an exclusive edition of skeleton diving watches limited to 175 timepieces, all numbered. This cutting-edge evolution of the DIVER X retains its sporty appeal, while taking a radical step towards transparency. As the new hero watch of the DIVER collection, the DIVER X SKELETON is an explosive fusion between the sporty design of a DIVER and technical prowess of the EXECUTIVE SKELETON. It’s a match that was written in the stars.
Like all of Ulysse Nardin’s DIVERS, the DIVER X SKELETON is designed to withstand the potentially fatal pressures that exist at a depth of 200 meters. To achieve this, it is equipped with a concave inverted unidirectional rotating bezel, which protects the domed sapphire glass against untimely impacts. The engineering team has completely redesigned the UN371 movement, which is visible through the 44mm case. Originally designed for the EXECUTIVE SKELETON collection, it has been improved by the addition of an oscillating weight in the shape of the Ulysse Nardin’s iconic X. There is also a barrel cover placed at midday with a blue Carbonium®, which is the same as the bezel, and the hours, minutes and seconds hands are coated with Superluminova, so you won’t struggle to read the time underwater